War of the Rebellion: Serial 017 Page 1082 OPERATIONS IN N.VA.,W .VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

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true that the exercise of such a direction becomes not only a right but also a manifest and imperative duty, when the order is received in a condition of facts wholly unknown to the officer who gives it, wholly different from that contemplated upon its face, and yet bearing most naturally upon the question of the best mode of carrying its real meaning and purpose into effect. That this was precisely the case when I received the order which I am charged with disobeying, is shown by all the testimony, and ins undoubtedly fully known to the court.

It may be proper to add, in closing my observations upon this specification, that it fully appears in the testimony that, when I arrived at Bristoe Station, no exigency had presented itself requiring the presence of my corps at that point. General Pope himself, indeed, testifies that the necessity which he contemplated for my early arrival there, when he sent me the order, did not, in fact, occur. But I expressly abstain from laying any stress upon this fact. It should, in my judgment, be considered merely as an adducent, fortunate, indeed, but still an accident. I rest my defense upon the grounds above stated, that I executed the order in its full spirit and meaning, to the best of my judgment and ability. It occurred to me during the march, and I have been inclined to believe since, that I may have erred in fixing the hour of march, as I did, at 3 o'clock rather ran daybreak. Positive error, however, in this direction, especially in a case so doubtful, may be overlooked. But had I fixed the hour at 1, and so caused reveille at or about 11, and thus kept my corps - a large part of it, at least - already almost broken down with the fatigue of long and incessant marches, stumbling about in their camps in the thick darkness of that night, in order then to attempt to move into the road, and grope and stagger and straggle about in a vain and most fatiguing effort all through the night to no use, for what [no] purpose whatever but only to have the day dawn, as it surely would have dawned, and did dawn, upon their inextricable confusion and their broken strength a mile or two, more or less, beyond their camp, then I should, in my judgment, have done an act of wanton cruelty to my command, and at the same time have perpetrated a gross and inexcusable military blunder. If, then, an exigency, had really arisen requiring their presence at Bristoe Station early in the morning, in a condition for efficient service, in that case the blunder thus perpetrated would have been aggravated into a crime, for which the literal compliance with the order, written when and where it was, and reaching me as it did, might indeed have been pleaded in excuse, but could not have furnished either to my conscience as a man, or to my judgment as an officer, or to the judgment of the President of the United States, or of this court, or of the country, any adequate justification.

I come now to the second specification of the first charge, which alleges that I disobeyed the order of the 29th of August, addressed jointly and severally to General McDowell and myself, and designated in the testimony as the joint order. The substance of this order is, that General McDowell's corps and my own were to proceed toward Gainesville, on the road running from Manassas Junction to that place, until we should form a junction with other specified corps, which the order supposes to be not far from Gainesville. Then we were to halt. The order proceeds to give in express terms a direction as to our action under it, and concludes by enjoining upon us not to proceed so far in the direction which it prescribes as to preclude our falling back behind Bull Run on the night of the 29th or in the next morning. After a careful examination of this specification, and of all the testimony, I fail to understand upon